Ferrari 312 B3/74 #12 – Hot Wheels

1974 Ferrari 312 B3/74
Pilot: Niki Lauda 
Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Race: 1st in the 1974 Spanish GP
Hot Wheels - N5601 (diecast) 

Published 11/10/19

First seen in 1970, the 312 B was not a winning machine. And the revised 312 B2, introduced the following year, did not improve things for the scuderia. Without solid results, by 1972 Ferrari was in a serious crisis. Their F1 cars were far from the dominant force that they were 10 years before. In 1970, things got a little better after Mauro Forghieri developed a new 180° V-12. It was powerful and reliable, and brought some luster to the 312 B. But even so the 312 B was no match for the Cosworth-DFV powered Lotus. Forghieri believed that for Ferrari to be competitive again, they needed to adopt what was working for the competition. 

312 B3/74
Lots of the Spazzaneve in the 312 B3/74.

As a result, to replace the 312 B2, he designed the 312 B3 Spazzaneve (“snow plow”). The big deal about the new prototype was that it had a low center of gravity and a low polar moment. Forghieri achieved this by mounting as much of the mechanicals inside the very short wheelbase. However, right at that time he was transferred to the experimental department and his radical Spazzaneve was shelved. The production version of the 312 B3 of 1973 was a much more conservative affair.

312 B3/74
The high revving flat-12 produced a very characteristic wail.

In the end, the 312 B3 was a poor car. But for 1974 Forghieri was back as technical director, and he was fast to upgrade the car. He incorporated many of the features of his Spazzaneve and the resulting 312 B3/74 was a much better car. The engine was the same Tipo 001/12 of 1970, a 2992 cm³ V-12 at 180°, with 48 valves and DOHC. The chassis was an aluminum monocoque riveted to a steel space frame, covered by an aluminum and composite body. The car only weighed 582 kg, and with an engine output of 490 hp it became competitive. Finally Scuderia Ferrari had a good car.

312 B3/74
The 312 B3/74 – the car that got Ferrari back to the podium after 12 years.

And it was not only at the engineering department that things got better. Coming from FIAT, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo became race director, and also Il Comendatore’s right-hand man. At team level Jackie Ickx left, and in his place came young Austrian Niki Lauda. As a result, those changes improved a LOT the atmosphere in the team, to the point that the scuderia started to win again. On April 28th, 1974, Niki Lauda won the Spain GP at Jarama piloting the 312 B3/74 #12. That was his first GP win, in his fourth race for the scuderia – the first win for Ferrari since 1972.  It also marked Ferrari’s 50th Grand Prix win.

312 B3/74
The huge air scoop behind the cockpit, a trait that defined F1 cars of the era.

Sooooo… An F1 car. And an F1 car from Ferrari, nonetheless. No, I’m not expanding my collecting themes. And no, it was not a gift, I really bought it. This model is in the W-143 Garage for just one reason: Niki Lauda. I always admired the man and his tenacity as a pilot, and when he passed away I realized I needed something from him. And since Hot Wheels makes some VERY fine Ferrari models, that was the way to go. Few brands offer cloth seat belts with photo-etched buckles at this price point. So for the price, this 312 B3/74 is a fantastic model.

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